Monday, December 4, 2023

The Hidden Dangers of Your Morning Hair Routine

The air we breathe can carry hidden risks that warrant our attention and action.

Recent research from Purdue University has shed light on a surprising health concern that arises from one of the most common morning rituals: hair care. In a detailed study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers reveal how the use of hair care products (HCPs) leads to the inhalation of significant amounts of potentially harmful chemicals.

Chemical compounds such as decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (D5 siloxane), are favored in the industry for their properties such as low surface tension, inertness, and their ability to provide a smooth texture to hair products. However, the research highlights their darker side.

The Purdue University team discovered that during a typical hair care session, a person can inhale between 1 to 17 milligrams of these chemicals. This exposure is alarming, given the potential health risks associated with these compounds. In laboratory animals, D5 siloxane has shown adverse effects on the respiratory tract, liver, and nervous system. Its impact on human health over the long term, however, remains largely unexplored. The study also revealed that the application of high heat, as is common with hair straighteners and curling irons, significantly increases chemical emissions. At temperatures around 210 degrees Celsius, emissions can increase by 50% to 310%.

The inhalation of other products from hair care products - such as monoterpenes and propylene glycol could also have health implications.

Real-time siloxane measurements via proton-transfer-reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometry were used to measure VOCs in the air. Siloxane-based HCPs were tested using common hair styling techniques, including straightening, curling, waving, and oiling. 

The implications of this study go beyond personal health. These airborne chemicals don't just stay confined to our bathrooms; they spread throughout the house and even outside, contributing to urban air pollution. This finding is especially significant in densely populated areas where many people using similar products could significantly impact air quality.


Jiang J, Ding X, Patra SS, Cross JN, Huang C, Kumar V, Price P, Reidy EK, Tasoglou A, Huber H, Stevens PS, Boor BE, Jung N. Siloxane Emissions and Exposures during the Use of Hair Care Products in Buildings. Environ Sci Technol. 2023 Nov 16. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.3c05156. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37971371.

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